Have got three amazing reads to share with you - There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff, Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson, and VIII by HM Castor. All are pretty different with regards to genre, but all will give you a great read this bank holiday weekend.
There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
Oh My! The wonderful Meg is back on form! I say that only because I found The Bride's Farewell a little tough going - it was a very horsey book, and I'm not much of a horsey person. I am, however, a 'style and whimsey' person, and There Is No Dog has plenty of that! Every sentence is a delight. There weren't many pages where I wasn't smiling with joy for the way Meg weaves her words. The premise is easy: What If God Were Actually a Teenage Boy? It would certainly explain all the weirdness and bad planning in the world. And then: What If Teenage God Fell In Love? Well it would probably cause all sorts of chaotic havoc. And it does.
This isn't a novel that asks you to fret over consequences or mull over possible apocalypses - all it wants you to do is sit back and enjoy yourself. Moments of gorgeous romance sit with improbable poker games, plus it features a curiously adorable, penguiny creature called an Eck. The Eck is particularly wonderful. This isn't a novel for those who need a good plot to assist them in turning the pages. Plot is a little inconsequential here. But if, like me, you get your kicks from reading words conjured from a magical imagination, then please do read this book, because you won't be disappointed.
There Is No Dog is out now in hardback.
Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
If you're looking for a plot-thick page-turner, then this is it! Confused by psychic powers that allow her to move objects with the power of her mind, Lila runs away from London to America to spend some time with her brother and his best friend, Alex. They work for some secret government operation - the purpose of which you are able to guess pretty early on, but don't worry about that. There are plenty of other plot twists to keep you guessing! This is a superb, fun read. A well crafted thriller with a little bit of X-Men and Heroes chucked in - it's like reading a cinema blockbuster. Plus there is Alex. Let's take a moment to consider Alex. Because he is awesome. OK - where were we?!
This is teenage escapism at it's very best, and Sarah Alderson is a writer I'm really looking forward to following in the future.
Hunting Lila is out now in paperback.
VIII by H.M. Castor
Well I promised you three contrasting reads, and here is something else entirely different! VIII follows the life of renowned king Henry VIII, highlighting key moments in his life from early childhood to death, a bit like a best-bits compilation video. And like any good best-bits editor, Castor picks her moments carefully to create an image of a boy, then a man, troubled by the ghosts of his, and his family's past. Creepy spectres crop up throughout the book, always a precursor to something entirely horrible, and by the end I was left thoroughly chilled.
This is a very satisfying read. I can completely buy-in to Castor's theory that Henry was a young man psychologically troubled enough to develop a devastating superiority-complex that leaves death and disaster at every turn. The burden of the past is certainly not anything I had ever considered before when it came to the Tudors. When you learn about kings and queens in school, and all the plots and murders that surround them, you rarely get the chance to think about the emotional connections between them all. For example, despite knowing lots about 'The Princes in the Tower', for some reason I never connected them to Henry VIII, who was their nephew, their sister's son. The scars of countless wars and battles must have flowed down the royal line like a genetic illness, and it is this powerful idea that Castor explores.
Castor has written other novels, but I believe that this is the first that has been marketed to a younger audience. I use that phrase carefully, for I believe that this is one of those novels that could easily and happily be picked up by anyone. Give this book your full attention, it deserves it.
VIII is out in hardback in October
Feel free to send me your reactions and comments, especially if you have read or are planning to read any of these great titles!